This is the first post in a new series on my blog called the “Heirloom Series”. In each post I will feature a piece of jewellery that has a story to tell or is part of a legacy; I want to share the significance behind those jewels that tie people and places together.
I thought I would start the Heirloom Series off with a very special piece of jewellery that belongs to my mother: her childhood charm bracelet. When my mother was twelve, her parents took her and her two siblings on an adventure of a lifetime; they spent several months travelling around the world. Throughout their travels, my mother collected little charms that she affixed to a slinky silver bracelet. Each charm served as a souvenir of sorts that reminded her of some of the many places they travelled. Some of the charms include the iconic Eiffel Tower, a little figure on a surfboard, a pagoda, a fish with moveable scales (my personal favourite). Each charm is quite unique, and each corresponds to memories of a time and place significant to my mother.
The first time I learned about this bracelet, I can guess I was probably five or six. I used to love exploring my mother’s jewellery collection. Most of her jewellery was kept in a wooden box with a tiny metal latch; other pieces, perhaps some of her more special pieces, were kept in individual cardboard jewellery boxes in a nearby drawer. Inside one of the mysterious boxes was the charm bracelet. It was the most curious and exotic piece of jewellery I had ever seen; each of the charms looked like a miniature toy! I would spend so long examining each of the charms, moving them around in my tiny fingers, and wondering what faraway land they came from. I remember trying it on, and it always felt so extravagant on my teeny tiny wrist.
As a child, I think what I found so fascinating about this bracelet is the complex aura it seemed to have. It was laden with so many stories from so places I could only dream about! Each charm symbolized someplace faraway where one time my mother had visited. The idea that each charm could act as a physical representation of a time and place that you could carry with you as a memento is something that stuck with me through childhood and into my adult life.
Throughout childhood, my interest in jewellery followed a similar course to that of my friends: we were obsessed with sticker earrings before we were allowed to have our ears pierced, and when we were finally allowed to have our ears pierced we all got little studs with our birth stones, and envied the girl with the coolest looking birthstone. I wasn’t allowed to wear “dangly” earrings until I was a bit older, and when the day finally came that I got the “okay fine” from my parents, I felt like a total grown-up wearing a pair of deep blue heart-shaped drop earrings that I had coveted in my mum’s jewellery box for so long!
Aside from hopping on the bandwagon of all the jewellery novelties that came and went throughout my adolescence, I never lost the ability to see the power of jewellery to be more than a fashion accessory. I learned that jewellery can be representative and symbolic; it can be a reminder of people and places; it can provide comfort and connection. I continue to take great pride in the special pieces of jewellery that have been passed down from older generations, or given to me from dear friends.
Those who know me well know that I have a somewhat guilty pleasure for buying cheap jewellery from H&M (I’ve found some great pieces there over the years!) but it is hard to deny that the experience of wearing fun and flashy fast-fashion jewellery I picked up for myself on a whim is totally different than wearing a long-cherished piece that once belonged to my great-grandmother. It just FEELS different.
I plan to post to this series once per month. I look forward to having the opportunity to share the stories behind some of your really special jewels. If you have a piece whose story you would like to tell and have featured on my blog, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thanks for reading! :)